Solutions Blog

Step aside all ye crimes—there’s a new king in town

 By Richard Arneson

It may not attract the attention of Hollywood like jewel heists or the mob, but neither can hold a candle to cybercrime―at least financially. In a recent study by The Herjavec Group, headed by Canadian entrepreneur and Shark Tank regular Robert Herjavec, cybercrime will pass $6 trillion dollars in the next three (3) years. Yes, $6 trillion. Write 6, then follow it with 12 zeroes—that’s a lot of cybercrime. And because that figure is double what it was just two (2) years ago, it stands to reason that $6 trillion will someday, perhaps as early as 2025, sound like a pittance.

No crime in the United States is growing at a faster rate―not even those associated with illicit drugs. The report estimates that $1 trillion will be spent fighting cybercrime over the next three (3) years. But perhaps the greatest threat to fighting cybercrime doesn’t have to do with money, but the lack of professionals who want to specialize in IT security.

It’s a bird…it’s a plane…no, it’s a cybercrime fighter

Several reports estimate that by 2021 there will be almost 4 million unfilled cybersecurity positions. One (1) reason for the shortage seems fairly intuitive given the precipitous rise in cybercrimes—companies can’t keep up with the demand. As Watergate informant Deep Throat advised to reporters Woodward and Bernstein: “Follow the money.” Yes, cybercrime pays, and pays very well. And the more ill-gotten gains, the more miscreants enter the “profession”.

Part of the security job gap is a skills issue. Many companies don’t want to train IT personnel to become security experts, but want instead to hire somebody who can bring the experience, expertise, certifications and accreditations with them. Combine that hiring philosophy with the super high demand for security professionals and the numbers don’t add up. The trained, experienced IT security pros have already been snatched up. It’s not that hiring IT security professionals isn’t on the rise, it’s that many companies stymie the hiring numbers by looking for experts that have no intentions of leaving their company. Remember, it’s in high demand, which means they’re also making a lot of dough.

Ransomware—cybercrime’s current business model

It’s predicted that a company is hit with a ransomware attack every fourteen (14) seconds (that number jumps to eleven (11) seconds by 2021). And the bad guys are getting better at it. Their shotgun, spray and pray approach has been supplanted by launching more targeted and effective infections. Ransomware is still the king of cybercrime. The FBI estimates that ransom payments hit $1 billion last year, and that total damages due to ransomware―including lost and destroyed data, halted productivity, theft of intellectual property, stolen customer, company and employee data, network outages, lost productivity, etc.―exceeded $5 billion. They believe that figure will hit $20 billion within three (3) years.

Dollars, productivity and copped data aside, there’s another fear that’s been voiced by somebody who knows a thing or two (2) about crime. According to Frank Abagnale, who’s shady, crime-fueled past was the subject of Steven Spielberg’s 2002 film Catch Me If You Can, “Up until now it’s just a financial crime for the purpose of stealing money―or stealing data that is money―but we have the ability now to turn someone’s pacemaker off.”

Security Concerns?

To find out how to secure your organization’s network, contact GDT’s tenured and talented engineers and security analysts at SOC@GDT.com. From their Security and Network Operations Centers, they manage, monitor and protect the networks of companies of all sizes, including those for some of the most notable enterprises, service providers, healthcare organizations and government agencies in the world. They’d love to hear from you.

Read more about network security here:

Q & A for a Q & A website: Quora, what happened?

They were discovered on Google Play, but this is no game

And in this corner…

Elections are in, but there’s one (1) tally that remains to be counted

Hiring A Hacker Probably Shouldn’t Be Part of Your Business Plan

Gen V

Sexy, yes, but potentially dangerous

Tetration—you should know its meaning

It’s in their DNA

When SOC plays second fiddle to NOC, you could be in for an expensive tune

How to protect against Ransomware

Farmers may soon have a new, hard-working friend

By Richard Arneson

First off, check today’s date. You’ll notice that it’s not April 1st. Yes, what you are about to read is real—and nothing short of amazing. And, perhaps best of all, it’s an IoT story.

Researchers at The University of Washington have developed a backpack for (wait for it, wait for it) bees. While it’s unclear how they affix them (imagine trying to get their little arms through the straps), the backpacks are so light—.0035 ounces—that they allow the little critters to buzz around unfettered. They’ve yet to determine if the bees are burning more calories than normal, but it stands to reason they are. It just so happens that bees also weigh about .0035 ounces. But cardio aside, the best part is what the backpack carries—data!

In the event you’re unaware, farmers currently monitor crops with drones to, obviously, increase production and revenue. Thermal imaging from drone-captured video can quickly provide better views of the crop canopy, which tells them, among other things, which farming methods work the best. And while the bees aren’t capable of providing video—yet—they don’t require hours of battery recharging. The backpacks can gather up to seven (7) hours of data; find a drone that will stay in the air longer than thirty (30) minutes. Currently, the backpack sensors can only store about 30 kB of data, which limits them to collecting basic information related to light, temperature and humidity. But, as researchers do, they’re looking for ways to collect more, even live, data.

Nope, it’s not GPS

The researchers had to skirt the need to utilize GPS, which is a power hog. They got around this by scattering broadcasting antennas that, through triangulation, can detect the backpack’s position based on its signal strength. Collected data is then sent by reflecting radio waves from nearby antennas, a process known as backscatter.

Yes, there are control issues. Until they can be properly trained, there’s no telling where the bees will go (no, they’re not attempting to train them). The researchers are working on ways to collect data only when the bees are flying over certain areas. But the good news is that bees go back to their hives, where the backpacks will get recharged wirelessly (try finding a charging port on a crumb-sized backpack). As yet, there’s no information on how they’ll keep rogue bees from flying off with the backpacks, then selling them on eBay.

Internet of Things (IoT) questions?

GDT’s tenured, talented solutions architects, engineers and security analysts understand how to design and deploy IoT—including Smart City—solutions for enterprises, service providers, government agencies and cities of all sizes to help them enjoy more productivity, enhanced operations and greater revenue. GDT helps organizations transform their legacy environments into highly productive digital infrastructures and architectures. You can reach them at SolutionsArchitects@GDT.com or at Engineering@GDT.com. They’d love to hear from you.

You can read more about IoT and Smart City Solutions below:

Why Smart Cities? It’s in the numbers

Five (5) things to consider prior to your company’s IoT journey

Without Application Performance Monitoring, your IoT goals may be MIA

How does IoT fit with SD-WAN?

GDT is leading the Smart Cities Revolution

In Information Technology, it’s the biggest thing going

By Richard Arneson

It’s big. It’s sweeping across college campuses. It’s the new rage. No, it’s not a band, a movie or some nonsensical fad, it’s…supply chain. While it may not be offered at liberal arts colleges, if a school offers a business degree you can count on supply chain classes being filled to the brim. It’s quickly pushing marketing, finance and management to the side and becoming THE business degree to earn. My son, who’s a senior in college, has five (5) roommates; three (3) of them are getting a degree in Supply Chain. Oh, and they all have very good jobs lined up when they graduate in five (5) months. Yes, supply chain is big, and rightly so.

Supply chain is simply how a company works with its suppliers to ensure products get to consumers quickly and efficiently. And, of course, it brings revenue to a company and its suppliers faster, so their money can be making them money sooner. While the words Supply Chain to describe the aforementioned were coined approximately 35 years ago, it’s been around as long as vendors have offered products made by somebody other than themselves. It chains together all individuals or companies that help bring a product to market, from the rawest of materials to the finished, consumer-ready product.

Supply Chain, meet Digital Transformation

Digital transformation may be to the IT world what supply chain is to the business world. Everybody wants digital transformation (some want it but don’t know exactly why), but both it and supply chain deliver, if done well, the same thing―a competitive advantage in the marketplace. In industrial environments, where extraordinary amounts of information and traffic need to reach a highly mobile workforce, it’s especially effective.

By digitizing warehouses and distribution facilities, costly, time-consuming manual errors can become a thing of the past. Siloed operations and processes mean poor system integration, which can result in losses of revenue and customers. IoT assets in the form of sensors and cameras can help monitor operations and protect against theft and loss, and cybersecurity measures can protect sensitive customer, supplier and company information.

By connecting warehousing equipment and systems, such as sensors, smart mobile devices, automated sorters and conveyors, and security systems, companies can stay on top of operations and warehouse systems. Also, they can access key data and information from a variety of sources to help develop solutions to address any issues that are brought to light. And maintenance of equipment can be monitored to ensure operations run smoothly and continue to do so in the future.

And once products leave the warehouse, shipments and fleets, such as delivery trucks, are more easily and accurately managed.

Now step from the warehouse and into the store. Yes, retailers have taken big hits over the past few years thanks to online shopping, but they, too, are enjoying the rewards of digital transformation. For retailers, those rewards are coming in the form of collected data, which, when utilized, can help them make insightful, customer-centric decisions. For example, is there a need to offer new or additional product lines? Are shoppers’ in-store needs being met? Retailers that are successfully enjoying digital transformation have become less about products and more about the customer.

Questions about your digital transformation journey?

For more information about how your organization can develop or enhance its road to digital transformation, call on the expert solutions architects and engineers at GDT. For years they’ve been helping customers of all sizes, and from all industries, realize their digital transformation goals by designing and deploying innovative, cutting-edge solutions that shape their organizations and help them realize positive business outcomes. Contact them at SolutionsArchitects@gdt.com or at Engineering@gdt.com. They’d love to hear from you.

You can read more about Digital Transformation and how it’s changing the business landscape here:

Workshops uncover insights into the state of IT and Digital Transformation

What is Digital Transformation?

The only thing we have to fear is…definitely not automation

Without application performance monitoring, your IoT goals may be MIA

When implementing a new technology, don’t forget this word

When being disruptive is a good thing

Automation and Autonomics—the difference is more than just a few letters

Is blockchain a lie detector for the digital age?

By Richard Arneson

We’re almost to the point when people no longer hear blockchain and think Bitcoin. Blockchain is now helping businesses and organizations tackle a variety of issues. For instance, Walmart has turned to blockchain to keep customers safe from E. coli-tainted produce (read about it here). The United Nations World Food Programme (UNWFP) recently provided cryptocurrency-based food vouchers to thousands of Syrian refugees. Healthcare organizations are beginning to utilize blockchain to better track patients after they’ve left the hospital. Several real estate companies have turned to blockchain to manage the cumbersome legal procedures and processes related to the sale or transfer of property. And blockchain is now addressing the age-old question that has haunted hiring managers for years—are job candidates being truthful?

Eight (8) out of ten (10)

A 2017 study conducted by HireRight, a background screening company, found that eight (8) out of ten (10) people lied on their resume (actually, the figure is 85%, up from 66% just five (5) years ago). While the study doesn’t distinguish between the magnitude of the lie (slight fib vs. claims of inventing the cure for polio), it’s still a shocking number, especially considering the current job market is the best in decades. It’s a candidate’s job market; why the need to lie?

The Gig Economy

The word gig economy is gaining steam. If you’re unaware of its 2018 meaning, it refers to the move toward hiring contracted workers for set periods of time. Recent studies predict that the percentage of contracted workers will be anywhere from thirty to forty percent (30-40%) within the next couple of years. But with the increasing velocity to hire contracted workers comes some downside, at least for hiring managers―how can they vet candidates better and faster? With the gig economy, there are a lot more candidates to scrutinize.

The process of vetting, selecting and onboarding candidates is timely and laborious. It’s already costly, but in the event a candidate slips through the vetting process with a lot of creative writing on their resume, the cost skyrockets. The entire process starts over, but there’s no guarantee it won’t happen again.

It’s ingenious

Blockchain’s encrypted public ledger structure is actually an ideal—and certainly creative–solution for the staffing industry. For instance, a blockchain could be used to verify a candidate’s work history, including their tenure, job title, achievements and supervisor. A candidate’s former employer can easily add to the public ledger as it relates to their company, and hiring managers and recruiters can simply check the ledger for verification purposes. The candidate would have to provide the past and any future employers access to their wallet, within which the credentials are located. And if they refuse to provide access, you’ve now got a big, red flag waving in your face.

Once employment has been verified, it’s time-stamped and doesn’t require additional action. Future employers can easily check candidates’ work histories, which would greatly speed up the hiring process. No more waiting for days to get a call back for employment verification. And once employment, education, references, certifications and accreditations are verified, they can’t be altered by either the candidate or the verifier.

But it doesn’t just benefit the hiring company

Candidates can provide access to whomever they’d like, and, with a cryptographic key, they can protect their background information with the level of privacy and security they’d like. And with blockchain, they can start earning a paycheck much faster.

Questions? Turn to the Experts

If you have questions about what to look for in an IT staffing solutions firm, contact the staffing professionals at Staffing@gdt.com. They’d love to hear from you. Some of the largest, most notable companies in the world have turned to GDT so key initiatives can be matched with the right IT professionals to drive projects to completion. GDT maintains a vast database of IT professionals who maintain the highest levels of certifications and accreditations in the industry. And they understand the importance of finding professionals with the right soft skills. In addition, the IT professionals they place have access to the talented, tenured solutions architects, engineers and professionals at GDT.

To learn more about IT Staffing, read the following…

Utilizing an IT Staffing Solutions firm boils down to savings, whether in dollars or time

IT Staff Augmentation–it’s about more than just the resume

Do you need Staff Aug or Outsourcing—or both?

How Companies are benefiting from IT Staff Augmentation

And read about how GDT’s Staffing Solutions team helped a financial services firm find the perfect candidate in record time

Why Smart Cities? It’s in the numbers

By Richard Arneson

We’re living in a world where some of the most mundane of tasks can be offloaded thanks to artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and predictive analytics. Whether regarding businesses or individuals, time-consuming tasks and processes can grind down productivity and prevent individuals, teams and departments from working on initiatives that should be helping shape their company’s future for years to come. And our personal lives are benefiting tremendously from the Smart Revolution. Healthcare apps are freeing up time that patients would have otherwise spent sitting in traffic or in a waiting room flipping through a 5-year-old copy of Good Housekeeping. You can monitor your home’s temperature, lighting and security while sipping a margarita on a Cancun beach. Yes, the smart life is simpler, less stressful and, perhaps best of all, more fiscally-minded. And in the off chance you haven’t heard, cities, both big and small, are beginning to see the light.

A Smart approach to combat budget cuts

Try to find city that hasn’t experienced budget cuts in the past twenty (20) years. It’s rare, if one even exists. Police forces and fire departments have become understaffed, bone-jarring pot holes remain unrepaired, parks are left untended and unsafe, youth sports and arts districts go unsupported; the list goes on and on. Reading further down it quickly becomes disheartening. And what’s the most common way cities try to combat budget cuts? Higher taxes. Yay!

But some cities, at least the smarter ones, are turning to a smarter solution and transforming themselves into a Smart City. The following stats and figures provide a brief list of some of the many reasons they’re doing so:

Lighting alone composes up to forty percent (40%) of cities’ utility bills

By utilizing sensors and a scalable platform to smartly address street lighting, both utility costs and those related to crime can be greatly reduced. Without it, energy is wasted and cities’ carbon footprint will continue to grow. IoT-enabled lampposts allow lights to be dimmed or turned off in the absence of nearby traffic, whether foot or vehicular.

Thirty percent (30%) of traffic congestion is due to drivers looking for a parking space

Smart Cities are better and more rapidly directing drivers to areas where parking is available. As a result, traffic congestion and emissions are reduced, and time and cost savings―and far happier citizens―are the result. And don’t forget what IoT-based ride sharing solutions, along with bicycle and scooter rentals, are doing to reduce traffic snarls and emissions.

Air pollution costs municipalities $1.7 trillion dollars per year

With location-based and real-time monitoring of air quality, Smart Cities can quickly determine which parts of town have the highest emissions levels. This level of information allows them to determine what is causing the disparities in air quality, and develop measures to fix them. In addition, citizens will be equipped with better, more timely information about when to venture outdoors or remain inside.

Traffic congestion costs drivers $300 billion each year

With data gathered from connected vehicles, city workers can be more quickly deployed to address congestion due to everything from abandoned vehicles, road debris or other safety issues.

Crime, and indirect costs related to it, total $3.2 billion annually

With sensors and connected first responders, Smart Cities can more efficiently monitor and respond to crime-related incidents. And retail districts, among other areas, soon reap the rewards, as consumers feel more secure to frequent local businesses and stay for longer periods of time.

Cities report a sixty percent (60%) inefficiency rate regarding trash collection

Smart Cities can better direct trash collection personnel to areas and collection receptacles that require immediate attention. This level of information ensures collections are conducted more efficiently, which not only saves time and money, but improves air quality.

The Smart City Revolution has already saved thousands of cities across the globe money and jobs, greatly reduced budget cuts, and helped keep their city safer, cleaner and healthier. Becoming a Smart City is certainly a fiscally and societally responsible goal, but to get it beyond the dream stage requires a high level of insight, empirical experience and planning. “It’s important to take a holistic view of the city’s entire financial and infrastructural landscape prior to attempting a Smart City migration,” said Alllen Sulgrove, GDT’s Director of its Smart City and IoT Solutions practice. “It’s only when data and technologies are tightly integrated to address particular needs that municipalities will enjoy the full value, from a societal and economic impact, of becoming a Smart City.”

Before acting on your dreams to become a Smart City, consult with experts who’ve done it

Becoming a Smart City only becomes beneficial to municipalities if its deployment results in economies of scale, cost efficiencies, optimization of resources, better customer service and satisfaction, and, ultimately, higher revenue. And that’s why consulting with Smart City and IoT professionals like those at GDT is critically important. GDT’s tenured, talented solutions architects, engineers and security analysts understand how to design and deploy Smart City solutions for cities of all sizes to help them realize more productivity, enhanced operations and greater revenue. GDT helps organizations transform their legacy environments into highly productive digital infrastructures and architectures. You can reach them at SolutionsArchitects@GDT.com or at Engineering@GDT.com. They’d love to hear from you.

You can read more about Smart Cities and IoT Solutions below:

Five (5) things to consider prior to your company’s IoT journey

Without Application Performance Monitoring, your IoT goals may be MIA

How does IoT fit with SD-WAN?

GDT is leading the Smart Cities Revolution

Don’t sell fiber optics short―what it can also deliver is pretty amazing

 By Richard Arneson

Forget for one (1) second that it’s super-fast (only slightly slower than the speed of light), has far less attenuation (signal loss) than copper or coax cable, is impervious to EMI and RFI, doesn’t pose a fire hazard and doesn’t require replacement nearly as often as its transmission counterparts. Fiber optics can also be used to detect earthquakes. Yes, earthquakes.

Researchers at the Department of Energy (DoE) Office of Science, located and managed at The University of California in Berkeley, CA., have been hoarding insane amounts of seismic data for years that they’ve collected from dark fiber buried in and area the Bay Area. From their over 500 terabytes of collected data, they analyze it to help monitor landslides, sinkholes, changes in injected carbon dioxide and, most importantly, earthquakes. By deploying what they term “distributed acoustic sensing”, the buried, unused fiber helps them measure seismic waves and achieve results comparable to traditional seismometers. It’s a game-changer in the world of seismology.

Out with the old…well, not just yet

Seismometers are what is currently used to detect the tiniest of tremors above ground and under it. But one (1) seismometer can’t detect movement over expansive areas. And it takes at least three (3) to detect the epicenter of a single earthquake. Think about the land mass in California alone―over a hundred million acres. That’s a lot of seismometers. While they can be linked together to expand their range of detection, they’re difficult to manage and maintain. And they’re the diamond of technologies; very small, but extremely pricey.

The dark fiber that DoE researchers monitor transforms vibrations into data they collect and analyze. While normal, ambient vibrations caused by traffic, construction, etc., have to first be parsed, then jettisoned, researchers can then get down to the business of identifying vibrations related to earthquakes, sinkholes and landslides.

The idea to utilize fiber optics to measure Earth’s tremors actually came from the oil and gas industry. After years of feeling trucks’ movements under their Tony Lama’s, petroleum engineers wondered if there was a way to measure movements located underground, such as those related to oil wells and pipelines. They opined that fiber optics may be the answer. They were right. It worked, and worked well. It’s still being used today for those purposes.

Here’s how they do it

Yes, it’s amazing, but it’s actually quite simple. When light is shot down the dark fiber, any impurities in the fiber scatters the light. Researchers use a laser interferometer to measure this scattering, which is caused by the pushing, pulling, pinching and squeezing of the fiber. And precisely how it’s being manipulated is caused by vibrations and tremors, even the tiniest of them.

With the glut of dark fiber available due to the telecom industry’s 1990’s arms race to get as much of it buried, strung or dropped in the ocean as possible, there’s no lack of it for seismographers to access.

For questions, turn to these optical networking experts

If you have questions or would like more information about fiber optics or optical networking, contact GDT’s Optical Networking practice professionals at Optical@gdt.com. Composed of experienced optical engineers, solutions architects and project managers who specialize in optical networks, the GDT Optical Networking team supports some of the largest service providers and enterprises in the world. They’d love to hear from you.

For additional reading about fiber optics, check these out:

A fiber optic first

When good fiber goes bad

Busting myths about fiber optics

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any better

And see how GDT’s talented and tenured Optical Networking team provided an optical solution, service and support for one (1) of the world’s largest social media companies:

When a redundancy plan needs…redundancy

Q & A for a Q & A website: Quora, what happened?

By Richard Arneson

Think back to the first time you hopped on the Internet. If you’re under the age of thirty-years-old, it might have been a “meh” moment, if it even registered at all. It was probably lost among the other technological advancements that surrounded your crib. But if you’re older—especially if you’re over 50—you may mark your first day of Internet access as a milestone. You probably remember the first thing you Googled (What is the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow?), then sat back in amazement as a wealth of information popped up about the subject. Fact-checking didn’t cross your mind; you just couldn’t believe everything, or so it seemed, was  just a few keystrokes away.

While Quora doesn’t merit the same level of technological wonderment, it’s shocking when you first discover how much Q & A info is posted on their site. Yes, a lot of it is nonsensical (“What is the most cringeworthy thing you’ve seen at a bachelor party?”), but much of it is informative. Content aside, it’s very popular—research from 2016 had them logging over 100 million unique visitors each month. I’m not sure I was even aware of Quora in 2016. In other words, that figure is far larger today. And while we’re on the subject of 100 million, that’s also how many Quora users’ data was lifted just six (6) days ago. Yes, I buried the lead.

This is why we can’t have nice things

We learned this at a young age—there’s always somebody or something to spoil all the fun. And in Quora’s case, the wet blanket came in the form of hackers who accessed registered users’ account information, including, among other less spectacular items, passwords and any data that authorized users imported from linked networks. It might be a blip on the cyber security radar screen considering credit card info, social security numbers, bank accounts, etc., weren’t stolen (Quora doesn’t request this type of user info), but it’s another reminder that digital evil is always lurking. Sadly, it always will be. The cat and mouse game continues.

The affected users were promptly notified by Quora and asked to re-set their passwords. They have secured the services of several digital forensics and security companies to conduct thorough investigations, but to date the perpetrator(s) have flown under the radar screen. While it’s not something Quora has mentioned or admitted to, many security analysts suspect they may have cut corners regarding encryption and associated hash functions. While Quora has stated that all passwords were encrypted and hashed with a salt that varies for each user, they didn’t provide additional details about the type of hash function.

According to Dan Goodin, a security analyst at Ars Technica, a technology news website, “The specific hash function matters greatly. If it’s one that uses fewer than 10,000 iterations of a fast algorithm such as MD5 with no cryptographic salt, hackers using off-the-shelf hardware and publicly available word lists can crack as many as 80 percent of the password hashes in a day or two. A function such as bcrypt, by contrast, can prevent a large percentage of hashes from ever being converted into plaintext.”

The takeaway

Please stop using the same password for multiple sites and accounts. If it makes you feel any better, yes, I’ve done this. I’ve ignored and violated this widely publicized, oft-mentioned digital security tip. And there’s really no excuse for it. With the spate of password management tools available, you can create the craziest combination of words, numbers and symbols you’d like. That’s not to say it’s a security panacea, but it can greatly reduce  password-related issues. If I’ve done it, you can, too. Now I can safely login to Quora and submit this gem: “Do you use Miracle Whip or mayonnaise when making tuna salad?”

Security Concerns?

To find out how to secure your organization’s network, contact GDT’s tenured and talented engineers and security analysts at SOC@GDT.com. From their Security and Network Operations Centers, they manage, monitor and protect the networks of companies of all sizes, including those for some of the most notable enterprises, service providers, healthcare organizations and government agencies in the world. They’d love to hear from you.

 

Read more about network security here:

They were discovered on Google Play, but this is no game

And in this corner…

Elections are in, but there’s one (1) tally that remains to be counted

Hiring A Hacker Probably Shouldn’t Be Part of Your Business Plan

Gen V

Sexy, yes, but potentially dangerous

Tetration—you should know its meaning

It’s in their DNA

When SOC plays second fiddle to NOC, you could be in for an expensive tune

How to protect against Ransomware

They know they want it, but don’t know how to get it…or really understand why they need it

By Richard Arneson

According to a recent study by a London-based research and analytics firm, ninety-one percent (91%) of executives realize the importance of AI and machine learning technologies. However, only slightly more than half of them are currently utilizing it. And less than twenty percent (20%) know how it’s being used in their organization, which makes you wonder if that “slightly over half” figure is really accurate. They know they want it and, as you’ll read below, know how they’d like to use it, but that’s often where the dream dies.

Here’s the problem

At the core of executives’ issues with implementing AI and machine learning is because they don’t really know how to communicate its benefits. They can’t speak to how or why it’s being, or needs to be, used.

These percentages are growing rapidly, but the key decision makers who are in charge of making AI and machine learning happen throughout their organizations are in the same boat. They don’t have enough information or skill sets on board to help match needs and/or adoption levels with AI and machine learning.

It’s one (1) thing to understand that changes need to be made, but another to know precisely where the change is needed. And without fully understanding what AI and machine learning can accomplish, it’s difficult to know what issues it can address. They know adoption is needed to stay competitive in the marketplace, but forking over a lot of dough without knowledge of the technologies and what they can provide is throwing good money after bad…executives don’t like that.

What else they know

The study also uncovered how executives would like to utilize AI and machine learning. Well over fifty percent (50%) want it to enhance employee productivity, which doesn’t come as a surprise. Find an executive who doesn’t want to improve employee output, and you’re looking at an organization that isn’t long for this world. In addition, they want AI and machine learning to help them make better business decision and streamline business processes.

Of those executives whose organizations are currently utilizing AI and machine learning, its ability to automate decisions ranks first, as forty percent (40%) utilize it for exactly that purpose. Second was customer satisfaction and retainment at thirty-six percent (36 percent), with deploying a better way to detect waste and fraud ranking third at thirty-three percent (33%).

Trust

Another study, this one (1) from Deloitte based on interviews with executives regarding AI and machine learning, discovered that the notion of putting blind faith in results is terrifying. The executives know that data, and loads of it, is being analyzed, but haven’t the foggiest what’s done with it and, most importantly, whether what comes out the other side is trustworthy.

And part of that fear lies in the word algorithm. When it’s thrown about, it tends to make people squirm. Whether referring to math, SEO or AI and machine learning, many tend to tense up when they hear it, or stop listening altogether. Algorithm may sound cryptic, but it shouldn’t; it’s simply a mathematical equation. It’s the task(s) algorithms perform, and how they calculate answers and results, that can give people a case of tired head. They think back to that C they got in high school algebra and promptly decide that they’re not equipped to participate in any discussion that includes the word or has anything to do with it.

The aforementioned figures will steadily rise, of course, but its rapidity depends on how much executives understand what AI and machine learning can accomplish, and how to explain its benefits to others, like shareholders.

Education breeds Trust…here’s how to get both

GDT’s tenured, talented solutions architects, engineers and security analysts understand how to positively incorporate change by designing and deploying innovative solutions and technologies―including AI and machine learning―that help customers realize greater productivity, enhanced operations and more revenue. GDT utilizes key partnerships with best-of-breed technology companies to help organizations transform their legacy environments into highly productive digital infrastructures and architectures. You can reach them at SolutionsArchitects@GDT.com or at Engineering @GDT.com. They’d love to hear from you.

You can read more about how AI and Machine Learning are helping organizations, and can help yours, transform your business, click any of the following:

Answer: you get a better solution than your current one

AN AI answer from a VIP provider

Unscrambled, these letters represent some of the hottest topics in the IT industry

Automation and Autonomics: the difference between them is more than a few letters

The only thing we have to fear is DEFINITELY not automation

When being disruptive is a good thing

If you fall victim to it, you won’t end up marking it as “like”

By Richard Arneson

Apparently, scammers get bored, too, at least the ones who find it fun and profitable to generate hustles related to cryptocurrency. They’ve found a new target—Facebook. Their scamming medium of choice has primarily been Twitter, which has for months been littered with fake cryptocurrency advertisements. For Facebook, however, they’ve modified their strategy and tactics. On Twitter, their basic, garden variety scam has been the infamous Bitcoin giveaway (tip: if it’s a giveaway, it’s you who will be giving away something.). For Facebook, their tactic involves luring users into coughing up sensitive info, such as the holy grail of scamming–credit card information.

Here’s how it works…on Facebook, at least

The attackers (I call them miscreants) set up phony pages with a call-to-action in the form of a fake, sponsored ad. After clicking on it, users are directed to a replica CNBC page that promotes an investment opportunity. While claims of big investment opportunities should be the first clue that you’ve ventured into murky digital waters, if it doesn’t and you end up there, you’ll be given the opportunity to purchase a new, shiny cryptocurrency from CashlessPay.

According to the ad, Singapore just announced they’re adopting an official coin, which can only be purchased from CashlessPay. Oh, and it includes fake endorsements from sundry celebrities, including Sir Richard Branson, famed English entrepreneur and owner of The Virgin Group. Gee, if Richard Branson invested in it, it must be good. I’m all in! And that’s exactly what they’re praying to The God of Cybercrime that you’ll be thinking. And, of course, once you pull out your plastic cash and enter in a few digits, you’ve just become a victim. You’ll soon unknowingly purchase high-end electronics throughout the world.

Is Facebook asleep at the wheel?

It seems odd to most that these malicious ads got past Facebook and Twitter in the first place. In the Facebook case, the miscreants were able to slide past their defense mechanisms, odd considering that earlier this year they banned all blockchain and cryptocurrency advertisements. It’s not clear exactly how they circumnavigated Facebook’s security sentinels, but obviously they did. It is interesting, though, that phony cryptocurrencies require payment via bank wires or credit cards.

Twitter appears to be the first social media victim, but they’re not flattered

While Facebook has been scammed for what appears to only be a matter of weeks, Twitter has been battling fake cryptocurrency ads for the past nine (9) months. Initially, Twitter scammers launched armies of bots that mass-spammed links to cryptocurrency giveaways. They tweaked their approach and decided to implement a more selective spamming model. They began hijacking real profiles; one (1) of their favorites was Elon Musk. Other targets soon followed, including several politicians and government accounts. Their piece de resistance? Google and Target, who both fell victim to the scam.

The question now: “Can Facebook remediate this issue faster than Twitter?”

We’ll see.

Security Concerns?

To find out how to secure your organization’s network, contact GDT’s tenured and talented security analysts at SOC@GDT.com. From their Security and Network Operations Centers, they manage, monitor and protect the networks of companies of all sizes, including those for some of the most notable enterprises, service providers, healthcare organizations and government agencies in the world. They’d love to hear from you.

 

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If content is king, then video is its right-hand man

By Richard Arneson

There’s a reason that YouTube has over a billion unique visitors each month―video works, whether for marketing, training, webcasting, collaboration, or just plain entertainment. But it’s no longer about cute cats or spectacular sports highlights. Video is—or definitely should be–an integral tool in a company’s communications arsenal. Here’s one (1) of the many reasons why:

Cisco predicts that at least eighty percent (80%) of all Internet traffic will be video by the time 2020 arrives. And there are several reasons for their prediction, not the least of which relates to Google and how their search algorithms just love video content. And as long as we’re talking about SEO, several studies estimate that video gets anywhere from thirty to forty percent (30-40%) higher click-through and conversion rates than text. And, let’s face it, we’re living in a video world. People don’t read like they used to, they want something easier to consume that will capture their attention for longer periods of time. Consumers want, as they said in the roaring twenties, moving pictures.

A communications medium this important requires a secure solution you can rely on time and again

A video strategy requires a solution like the one from Vbrick, a 21-year-old, Herndon, VA-based company that offers a cloud-based video platform named Rev. Whether for an enterprise, service provider and government agency, Rev does as its name suggests—rev up video communications. Noted industry research and analyst firms, such as Frost & Sullivan and Forrester, have also taken notice. In fact, Frost & Sullivan named Vbrick a market leader in Enterprise Video Platforms each of the last three (3) years.

Here’s how Vbrick’s Rev Video Platform works

Imagine your organization is trying to push high-def video to tens of thousands of viewers worldwide. You may use Facebook Live or another similar connection method, but imagine trying to accomplish this on your own with team members who may or may not be video literate. It’s risky at best, mortifying―even career impacting―at worst. Not to worry if you use Vbrick, however. They designed their own Enterprise Content Delivery Network (eCDN) so customers’ videos won’t bog down or grind their corporate network to a halt.

Capture your video content…

Rev provides highly intuitive tools that allow customers to live stream content from any device, or upload recorded videos to a highly secure and reliable library.

…Manage it…

Vbrick Rev customers can then customize and design their own, brand-friently video portal.

…and Distribute it!

Vbrick Rev is the only eCDN on the market and is supported by an intelligent and automated mesh structure, which provides customers with the most secure and reliable video delivery service on the market.

But what if I use….?

Yes, Vbrick Rev collaborates seamlessly with best-of-breed infrastructures, including Cisco, Citrix and Riverbed, or any SIP-compliant video conference software. It works so well with Cisco, in fact, that they named Vbrick their 2018 Independent Software Vendor (ISV) Partner of the Year. And Vbrick Rev can accommodate the Single Sign-On (SSO) provider or Active Directory system of your choosing.

GDT and Vbrick―Collaborators in collaboration

GDT’s Collaboration Solutions team has worked with the experts at Vbrick to design and deploy transformative collaboration solutions for enterprises, service providers and government agencies of all sizes. Whether you need to stream video content for an all-hands meeting, deliver training curriculum to remote workers, disseminate enticing marketing information or present electrifying webcasts, GDT’s Collaboration Solutions experts can help. You can reach them at CollabExperts@gdt.com. They’d love to hear from you.